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Old 15-07-2009, 16:33   #1
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Anyone Sail to the VI via Cuba ?

I am reading the Passages South as we are heading to the VI from Florida Gulf Coast in October. Van Sant states that you can follow the north shore of Cuba to DR instead of going through the Bahamas. Has anyone gone this route?

I will be honest and tell you that this book is intimidating me. It looks like there is so much to learn to make the journey 'Thornless'. We draw 6' and I keep hearing of skinny waters in the Bahamas. We need to learn all this weather effect stuff and it is is mindboggling.
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Old 15-07-2009, 16:40   #2
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Janice,

6 feet is not a problem in the Bahamas. If you intend to take the thorny path route you will have lots of company in the Bahamas. They hold seminars in Georgetown on how to proceed. Enjoy the Exumas, get to Georgetown and sail off with a few buddy boats.
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Old 15-07-2009, 19:00   #3
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A friend of ours did it a few years ago. Up wind all the way.
They enjoyed the trip and the Cuban people are the greatest.
Buy lots of Cuban rum, over 25 different varieties and trade it for fish.
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Old 16-07-2009, 03:44   #4
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Originally Posted by Janice View Post
I am reading the Passages South ...
... I will be honest and tell you that this book is intimidating me.
Someone once suggested, only half jokingly, that “The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South” should have been titled: "Why I Love the Dominican Republic and Why You Should Spend a Lot of Cruising Time There... and BTW Here's How to Get There".

Check out the Cuba Cruising Net
http://www.cubacruising.net/index.html
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Old 16-07-2009, 11:10   #5
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Vasco, it would be fun to take part of the seminar. How do I get info? Who runs it, etc.
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Old 20-07-2009, 17:35   #6
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The going down island seminars in Georgetown are all done by volunteers - I have done some. But they are all just fill in material to Van Sant's Passages South book. They are held if a volunteer is available during the December to June "season" for going down island. Actually it is more January to April as after the big Georgetown Regatta the cruiser fleet vacates Georgetown "enmass."
From the Gulf Coast the easiest route "down island" is to the Florida Keys to the Great Bahamas Banks (Bimini to Cat Cay) then across the Banks to Nassau. Then down the Exumas to Georgetown and from there eastward down the little islands to Mayaguana - the easternmost Bahamas island. Across to the Caicos Islands (Provo, etc.) to Long Cay or Great Sandy Cay then south to the Dominican Republic (Luperon or Sea World at Puerto Plata) or eastward hugging the D.R. coastline to Samana and finally across the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico and along the south shore of Puerto Rico to the "Virgins."
- - That is called the "Thorny Path" as it is upwind, up current and includes some downright nasty water. Many a "down island" cruise has ended in Puerto Rico with the first mate flying home after being beaten up by Mother Nature. So be prepared, make sure the boat is prepared before you attempt it. Thousands have made it fine, but without proper planning and skill - especially the boat - it can be quite nasty.
- - Once you round the corner at Point Tuna, Puerto Rico you enter "paradise" and the rest of the journey "Down Island" is one great island after another.
- - An alternate and much faster routing is known as taking "I-66" from the middle Bahamas - Nassau and the Abacos area. You sail east north east as necessary to keep in the westerly winds until you get to longitude 066 then hang a right and sail south into the easterly tradewinds to the Virgins/Puerto Rico. This route is normally one to two weeks at sea where as the "Thorny Path" take a couple of months or more due to the need to wait for "weather windows" and also to tear yourself away from the fun activities at each stopping point along the way.
- - There are still "political" problems with doing the north Coast of Cuba. We are still under the "embargo" and it is illegal for USA citizens and boats to visit Cuba. You need to stay close to the Cuban shore which means checking into Cuba and complying with all there coastal passage rules. Once you get to the eastern end of Cuba you will be heading straight into the wind and currents all the way to Puerto Rico and the Virgins. It possible to duck south through the Windward Passage and then head east underneath Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic a route with less current and wind problems.
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Old 03-08-2009, 10:54   #7
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Thumbs up Florida to the Caribbean

I keep reading about how hard it is to "cross by" the Dominican Republic and not getting to "paradise" until your on Puerto Ricos east coast. Is there anyone that has entered "paradise" a lot before that? I know i did...!

Insted of thaking the "thorny path" on the DRs north coast, pas by the south. here there is flat water, lots of nice places to anchore, nice marinas, do I have to mention the greate food and nice peaople..?

The DR is still a new destination, but it is the secound biggest Island in the Caribbean, after Cuba. The Island is part of the Caribbean and if your planning a trip down here, this is a island that you don't want to miss!

frank Vrigintio has written a cruising guide over the DR. You can download it on its official site!

Cruising Guide | Index

Nice Sailing

// Lisa and Tony, Focus II
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:20   #8
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I keep reading about how hard it is to "cross by" the Dominican Republic and not getting to "paradise" until your on Puerto Ricos east coast. Is there anyone that has entered "paradise" a lot before that? I know i did...!
- - There seems to be three parallel threads on this subject currently - the others being the Thorny vs Thornless Path and the Dominican Republic. I put a discussion message in the latter about the "realities" of the D.R. I would consider retiring and living permanently in the D.R. as the island has all the adventure and opportunities to live comfortably in "style" on a "USA Social Security" retirement income. But there are some major sociological and psychological hurdles to to get over about the island. Otherwise, you will hate the place instead of loving it as I and others do.
- - If you only visit and view the island from an isolated viewpoint with minimal contact with the locals and ex-pat community, you will be either be basing your assessment of the island on the corrupt officials and filthy harbors or great touring and adventure opportunities. But if you spend a hurricane season or more there and get to know the people and topography you will then either thoroughly hate the place or love it.
As discussed in my other posts in the other threads and as Frank Virgintino talks about in the first part of the his guide - you are entering a very different "universe" that what you are used to a North American.
- - So where does "Paradise" start? For some it is in the Bahamas which is in my opinion a better cruising grounds than the Virgin Islands and a lot closer. But still the Bahamas are sometimes known as "Miami-east" when you are in the developed areas. Next is the Dominican Republic which is "Paradise" when you consider the topography of the island, the fabulous "natural/organic food," the extremely inexpensive cost of living and the simple life of the people. But it is also "hell" if you consider the graft and corruption, poverty of the people, and gender discrimination.
- - As you move east, Puerto Rico's "other part" - that being anywhere other than San Juan and the northeast coast - is a fabulous island. Everything we are used to as North Americans is available in the stores and mega-malls along with great vistas and touring opportunities up into the mountains and rain forest. However, the blatant language bigotry if you do not speak Spanish can really get to you since this is supposed to part of the USA.
- - Next comes the Spanish Virgins and US Virgins which when you get around the huge cruise ship tourist thing are very pleasant places. I stopped for 4 days and spent 4 months there.
- - The British Virgins are the premier cruising grounds for "newbies" to the chartering experience. And once you get around the hordes of charterers it is very pleasant if a bit expensive.
- - So it is all subjective as to where "Paradise" starts. Your "Paradise" can be radically different from mine or somebody else. This is where the value of the Eastern Caribbean comes into its own. All the islands offer different small "Paradises" and most likely one or more of them just might fit your ideas/definition of the term.
- - In terms of sailing/cruising the waters, the degree of difficulty increases as you leave North American waters and enter the Bahamas and beyond. Normally the first - stressful and uncomfortable passage is the T&C to the D.R. crossing. 20 to 35 knots on the beam with 8 to more foot waves on your beam for 14 hours plus or minus. It can be a sleigh ride for some and shear hell for others unless you are experienced and prepared and have a sound vessel that can take it. Next is the bash east to Puerto Rico where you are going dead upwind and up current for 24 hours (+/-) from Luperon to Samana or 42 to 48 hours non-stop to Puerto Rico. Then 2 to 5 days of bashing for a few hours in the early morning along the Puerto Rico south coast as you hop from one fabulous little anchorage to another.
This is where the guides like Van Sant's Gentleman's Guide South earn their cost. The hints and suggestions if learned and properly applied to the characteristics of your vessel can turn the "less than nice experience" of crashing and bashing eastward into a tolerable experience. I would suggest that a lot of the "bad" in the experience is due to inexperience or otherwise put - "On the job training." Once you have a half dozen of these passages under your "sea-belt" they become only a "bother" rather than a "defining experience" in your life.
- - And when you do get to Point Tuna - I always tell new folks you will have earned your "now I am a real cruiser" badge. Then the rest of the down-island experience really is "Paradise." And as a cruising couple you will either morph into a single-hander experience or truly be "partners in life" joyously enjoying each other and all that "real" life has to offer. That earns you "double Paradise" medal.
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